The burpee, or squat thrust, is a full-body exercise used in bodybuilding and as an aerobic exercise. The basic movement is performed in four stages and known as the “four-point burpee”:
The exercise was named in the 1930s for the American physiologist Royal H. Burpee, who developed the burpee test. He earned a Ph.D. in Applied Physiology from Columbia University in 1940 and created the “burpee” exercise as part of his doctoral dissertation as a quick and easy way to assess fitness. The exercise was popularized when the United States Armed Services adopted it as a means of assessing the fitness level of recruits when the United States entered the Second World War. Composed of a series of exercises performed in rapid succession, the test was to be a quick measure of agility, coordination and strength.
The way to perform a burpee as originally planned has progressed since the 1930s. The burpee’s ascending phase used to be with the feet landing in the hands while staying at the ground, which creates unnecessary pressure on lower back. It is now more common to land the feet on the outside of the hands.
The burpee is sometimes confused with a sprawl. A spread is similar to the burpee with the main difference being that the hips come to the ground.
At 5 pm on May 17, 2014, in Greenwood, South Carolina, Cameron Dorn broke two burpee world records: the highest number of burpees in 12 hours with 5,657 and the most burpees completed in 24 hours with 10 105. On October 21, 2013, at 6 am in Portland, Oregon, Lloyd Weema broke the burpee world record with the largest number of burps on the floor performing 72 hours with 9,480.